Archive for the ‘Radio’ Tag

…Field Day…

A couple months ago I *finally* installed my Yaesu FT-857D mobile radio in my 2009 Dodge Ram 1500. You can see some info on how I did that here: /wh7da-mobile/

Today, I setup the FT-857D in my Dodge Ram with a friend’s Yaesu FC-40 tuner and a random wire dipole. I made two contacts. One in Oregon and one in Illinois.

This has helped me rethink my strategy for getting a more permanent and easily deploy-able HF setup in the truck. I liked the ease of using the FC-40. I liked using a ladder-line fed dipole. I liked the hitch-mount telescoping mast.

We had a fun time. We didn’t do any formal contesting. We got together, setup our rigs, made some changes, and had some fun.

Here are some links to a few short videos I took:

Connecting the antenna: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7RMDG297cFoNlhUV0RoRVJBRXc/view?usp=sharing

The antenna setup: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7RMDG297cFoU0hhaEtaX3dkY0U/view?usp=sharing

Trying to break into a pileup to San Diego: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7RMDG297cFoZ09QcXhwSUtVYjg/view?usp=sharing

IMAG0540 IMAG0539 IMAG0531 IMAG0513

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…been awhile…

So, its been a while since I posted…

It’s also been a while since I’ve done anything with ham radio. But, that’s changing soon.

I now live in Central Minnesota, in a little town called Big Lake. I miss Hawaii, I miss the EARC group, and I miss the Navy. But, I’m settling in here and finally got my FT7800 out and on the air last week. Turns out, the Sherburne County ARES does a Monday night net on the nearby Elk River repeater. I checked in as a guest the other night and was warmly welcomed.

After a little poking around on their website, www.shercoares.org I have decided to join the group. So, we’ll see where that takes me. At least its good to be using the radio again!

…finally done…(mostly)

Well, I’ve finally (mostly) finished the EARC website remake. I started with a rough idea of modifying an Andreas Viklund template. I think I have served his ideas well.

Of course, there is more to do… more to update… more to tweak… but the main site is up, and I think it looks great.

So, if you are interested in the Honolulu, Hawaii Emergency Amateur Radio Club, visit www.earchi.org.

…aviation frequencies…

If, like me, you enjoy listening in to the various aviation communications, then here is a list of the various Honolulu Airport frequencies:

  • 127.900 – ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information System. You have to listen to this and remember the information letter so that Clearance doesn’t have to repeat any information already on the recording).
  • 124.100 – Clearance (To get your planes callsign into the system, verify you have the information from ATIS, and give you permission to depart Class B airspace via any one of the departure routes).
  • 121.900 – Ground (Permission to taxi to the runway).
  • 118.100 – Tower (Controls the planes through the takeoff and the landing).
  • 119.100 – Approach/Departure (For planes turning West after takeoff and for all planes coming in).
  • 124.800 – Departure (For planes turning East after takeoff).

By the way, those are in order for a plane leaving Honolulu, from the first to the last. You could listen to an airplane’s communications all the way through. You could also listen for a friend/family plane to come in. For a plane coming in, it’s a little easier: 119.100 (for clearance into Class B airspace), 118.100 (for runway, permission to land, and taxiway), 121.900 (for permission to leave the taxiway and taxi to the terminal).

…passed IS-100…

So, I’ve read about other hams completing courses and getting certifications dealing with emergency preparedness and disaster management. I got curious enough this morning to google the most common one I see, IS-100, Introduction to Incident Command System. I sat down at the computer for a little over two hours, went through the presentations, took the exam, and passed.

Now, I’m interested in getting more of these courses knocked out.

https://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp

I strongly recommend these as a way to gain familiarity with the procedures and structures that are used in incident management. Quite interesting, and it may help you see an area that you are qualified for in the event you are involved assisting with an incident.

…antenna questions…

So, I’m joining a black bear hunt for this fall on Kuiu Island in Alaska. For emergency communications off the island, I am the only General Class licensed ham (so far) and so I picked up an FT-897 off eBay. This should be a great rig in the event we run into any problems.

I have a ton of questions based on the following information:

  • I have not yet ever operated HF.
  • Though I understand many antenna basics, much of it still confuses me.
  • I do not have an antenna tuner.
  • The manual for the 897 states

    “When installing a “balanced” antenna such as a Yagi or dipole,
    remember that the FT-897 is designed for use with an
    (unbalanced) coaxial feedline. Always use a balun or other
    balancing device so as to ensure proper antenna system performance.”

  • My pack weight for the trip is already exceeded with this radio and batteries, I must go absolutely minimum portable with the antenna.
  • Near the end of the trip, if we haven’t used the radio for emergency contacts, I plan to drain the batteries making QSO’s, which I have not yet made on HF.

Question 1: What band/frequency do you recommend for making contacts from the island?

Question 2: What antenna design do you recommend? It needs to be simple and inexpensive (which I think means a wire dipole), but I’m confused about the statement from the manual about the radio designed for an unbalanced coax feedline.

Question 3: Will I need an antenna tuner? Would an antenna tuner be only for multi band operations? Can I get by without one if I only plan to operate on two frequencies (one for QSO’s and one for the Alaska HF emergency frequency)?

Question 4: What recommendations and suggestions do you have for a beginner making his first HF contacts? I’d like to go on the air and not make “newbie-blunders”.

Basically, I’d like to make a trip to the hardware store this weekend and get the materials to build me an antenna. I can experiment with it next week, while I’m still on leave. I’m just not comfortable enough with the information I have to start building one. I’ve read everything from “you will need an antenna tuner if you are using unbalanced feedline such as coax, even with a balun” to “just throw a wire over a tree and make your contacts”. There’s a lot of middle ground between those statements.

So, any ideas for the newbie? Thanks in advance!

…eBay winner…

…So, I’m the proud new winner of a used eBay FT-897! I know, I’m excited too. I already can’t wait to get it. Should be here within a week or so.

And, what next? Hmmm… antenna. I’m thinking a really simple really portable string-up wire dipole antenna. Not necessarilly all band, but at least 20m and maybe 40m. Something that can be thrown up over the trees and operated on low power (for battery life).

Then, portability. Transport container. Something hard-cased like aluminum, or soft cased? Something hand-carry, or shoulder/back carry?

Of course, I’ll need another programming cable (I think) and programming software (definitely).

What about solar charging? Portable panels are getting pretty cheap nowadays.

Hmmm… and the habit addiction hobby expands…

…programming cable…

…So, I was looking at building my own programming cable, but changed my mind (for now). Instead, I purchased one – but not the expensive Yaesu one. I bought one off eBay from Valley Enterprises. It was just under $20, and shipping was FREE (yep, even to Hawaii – you never see that anymore).

I tried it out this weekend, and I love it. Of course, to program your radio you need software, and with only one C++ class under my belt, I wasn’t up to writing my own. So, a purchase and download from G4HFQ set me up with a great program.

Right now, I can only say that the cable works great, and that the software is really easy to use. I tripled the stations programmed on my FT-7800R in a short period of time at the computer. Best part is that it is completely organized now. The memories are setup in a way that make sense, and not just the order I entered them. Wow!

So, why didn’t I build one? I will. So far, it looks like I can cut a keyboard cable with a PS2 connector off, and that will fit the radio. As for the other end, there are diagrams that show the purposes of the different pins and wires, so it should be easy enough to mate that with an appropriate computer connector. Ah, but that is the problem. It looks like using a serial connector would be easy, but a USB connector (which I would rather use) has other issues. Since a USB port is a powered port, there are voltage adjustments that must be made. But, I don’t know enough about all that just yet. However, when I get bored enough… hmmm…

…joined EARC…

…Well, it’s been a year since I was licensed, and I finally made it to a club meeting (www.EARCHI.org). I’ve had every intention of joining for quite some time, but only recently got around to it.

My first meeting was great. They did a PSK31 demonstration that was quite interesting. Definitely has some gears turning for me. I also picked up some cool stuff at the swap/shop after.

I picked up an inexpensive dual band mag mount mobile antenna (Jetstream JTM2P), some Power Pole connectors, a Power Pole power panel (Saratoga PP4), along with some wire and adapter connectors. So, it was a very productive evening.

Also, if you are out here in Hawaii, you know that parts are hard to come by, and shipping is expensive… Well, check out NH7QH’s store: http://www.d-starhawaii.com/store.html

I was able to purchase the items online, send payment via PayPal, and he delivered them to the meeting the next night.

I’ve also signed on for NCS (Net Control Station) training. So, I’ll be able to help out with the nightly nets. Tonight, I’m going to check in via mobile to test the new antenna tx/rx. Next, I just have to figure out how invasively I want to setup the FT-7800R in my wife’s Liberty. I want to keep it portable, so permanent mounting is out, atleast for the main radio. I currently have the radio sitting under the drivers seat, with the removeable head sitting out on the console. It works well enough for a temporary setup, but I want something between temporary and full install… We’ll see…

…heard first satellite…

…I think…

I believe I received PacSAT, AKA Oscar 16 today on 437.025.

Actually, I started getting an intermittent transmission on 437.030, and followed it for several minutes down to 437.015, where it faded out. I was using my Arrow dual-band J-pole. There was nothing for several seconds, then an electronic noise that lasted for about 10-15ish seconds, then nothing… and that repeated.